Free and fair election: Proposals of Election Commission and its need

A free and fair election is necessary for

  • Healthy democracy
  • Responsible government
  • Corruption free nation
  • Efficient administration
  • World peace
  • Social cohesion
  • Inclusive growth
  • Social justice
  • Optimisation of human resource

Keeping all these in sight, the Election Commission has suggested several changes in various Acts and Rules to bring in more crystal clear transparency in the Indian political system.

Such recommendations include:

  1. Budget of the Election Commission to be charged: Administrative expenditure of the Election Commission should be charged on the Consolidated Fund of India.

At present, it is voted expenditure where as expenditure of other independent Constitutional bodies like Supreme Court, High Court, UPSC and CAG are charged i.e. they are non-votable expenditure.

  1. The procedure of removal of Election Commissioners and Chief Election Commissioner should be the same i.e. shall be on like manner and on like grounds as a judge of Supreme Court.

At present, the procedure of removal of Chief Election Commissioner is similar to that of a judge of Supreme Court but Election Commissioners and Regional Commissioners can be removed on the recommendation of Chief Election Commissioner.

According to SC judgment of 1995 (T. N. Sheshan vs. Union of India) Article 324 itself provides for multi-body Election Commission and so Chief Election Commissioner and Election Commissioners are at par but Regional Commissioners are appointed to assist the Election Commission and so Regional Commissioners are not part of Election Commission.

  1. Independent Secretariat for Election Commission at par with Secretariats of LS & RS and Registries of SC & HCs.

At present, Election Commission has Secretariat but with staffs whose service conditions are regulated by rules made by President under Article 309. Moreover, higher level officers come on deputation for short time from national civil services, though lower level officers are permanent and are from its own ranks.

  1. Amend Section 14 (b) of the Representation of People Act, 1950 and change the limitation of turning 18 on 1st January to any date in the year.

At present age eligibility of 18 years is fixed on 1st January of the election year.

Later Law Ministry accepted two dates suggested by Election Commission for age eligibility i.e. 1st January and 1st July. Accordingly Election Commission requested government to amend section 14 (b).

  1. Commission proposed a fresh column of source of income in the Form 26 under Rule 4A of The Conduct of Election , 1963, at the time of filling of nomination papers

At present, it is mandatory for the poll contestants to disclose the details of assets and liabilities for self, spouse and dependents in Form 26 at the time of filling of nomination papers but not the source of income.

Law Ministry has accepted this proposal and accordingly announced an amendment to the conduct of election rules.

  1. Election Commission proposes enhanced punishment for false affidavit by a candidate in the Form 26

At present, Section 125A of Representation of People Act, 1951 provides a punishment of 6 months imprisonment, a fine or both for any false affidavit in Form 26.

Commission proposed following changes in this regard

  • Punishment under section 125A be increased to 2 years’ imprisonment without any alternative of fine.
  • Offence should be included in the list offences listed in sub section (1) of section 8 which is would attract disqualification on conviction, irrespective of the term of sentence.
  • This offence should be specified as ground for challenging the election under section 100 (1) of the Representation of People Act, 1951.
  • This offence should be included in the list of corrupt practices’ under section 123 of the Representation of People Act, 1951.

 

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